Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Community Support

Online communities allow us to "help and be helped" across great geographic distances. Sites like Juvenation.org do this for the diabetes community, and there are countless other web communities out there to bring together people with almost every other disease. All too often I've heard from T1 kids who had never met anyone else with type-1 diabetes. Internet groups can help to close a geographic gap and create meaningful connections.

Sharing practical advice, moral support and patient tips go a long way - even if it comes in a pixelated form.

Jenni Prokopy who runs the chronicbabe.com blog put together a great video compilation that reveals how online health is being impacted by online support sites. It's worth checking out:

What is the impact of online health communities? from Jenni Prokopy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Give Smart

Saturday marked a big milestone for our little North Carolina chapter of JDRF. We raised $1.34 Million in one night for diabetes research. Once you have the money, however, a new problem arises - how do we best spend it?

JDRF prides itself in distributing the vast majority of every dollar raised directly to scientists who are searching for a cure, better treatments and ways to prevent the onset of diabetes. But how do we find the people who have the most promising lines of research? How do incent them to do what they promised to do in their grant proposals? How do we draw the best talent and minds to dedicate their time to solve our particular medical conundrum?

I met Ling last night at the 2011 TED Conference in Long Beach. As the "head honcho" of innovation at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she's seen first hand how the current system of grant making can sometimes destroy or pervert the innovators who apply for the support. Incentives disappear once the money is granted. Ling is trying to solve this puzzle (and promised to share it with me once she learns it).

Money alone can't cure diabetes. We need to be vigilant at how it's spent too.